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July 8, 2009 > Special Olympics beats the heat in Davis

Special Olympics beats the heat in Davis

By Gary van den Heuvel

Despite heat which pushed the temperature on the UC Davis track surface near 110 degrees and resulted in a number of heat-related medical incidents throughout the event, "We had a blast," said Amy Lee, volunteer coach of the Hayward Hurricanes Special Olympics team, who participated in the Special Olympics 14th Annual Summer Games at Davis over the weekend of June 26-28.

"They [the Games organizers] did a really good job of making sure cold water was always available to spectators as well as athletes, coaches and volunteers," said Lee.

Over 800 athletes competed in aquatics, bocce ball, tennis and track and field events over the weekend.

More than 3,000 people were in attendance at UC Davis, which was an encouraging sign for Special Olympics Northern California, considering that this year's Winter Games was cancelled due to lack of funds.

"UC Davis went above and beyond," said Vice President of Public Relations and Communications Kirsten Cherry. "They not only provided fantastic competition facilities, but their staff pitched in after hours at no charge, and they provided some services completely gratis. We felt very welcome in the Davis community."

Traveling from 32 counties around Northern California, athletes qualified in regional competitions before being selected to represent their delegation at the Summer Games, which is the largest Special Olympics event held in Northern California every year.

At the opening ceremonies, a check of $889,263 was presented to Special Olympics Northern California CEO Rick Collett by law enforcement personnel, more than 500 of whom had taken part in the 700-mile running of the Olympics torch to UC Davis.

Athletes Jeffrey Brown from Yuba/Colusa Counties, Curtis Kanazawa (Santa Clara County), Zachare Kleinman (Contra Costa County) and Brian Reioux (Yolo County) had the honors of being the final torch bearers and lighting the cauldron.

Special Olympics Northern California is a free, year-round sports training and competition program for children and adults with developmental disabilities. More than 13,000 athletes compete in over 170 competitions throughout the region in 15 sports.

For those interested in learning more about what Special Olympics has to offer, visit www.sonc.org.
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